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Vuelta a España 2022 stage 6 preview - GC battle in the mountains

ALTU DEL GAMONITEIRU SPAIN SEPTEMBER 02 Primoz Roglic of Slovenia and Team Jumbo Visma red leader jersey competes during the 76th Tour of Spain 2021 Stage 18 a 1626km stage from Salas to Altu dEl Gamoniteiru 1770m lavuelta LaVuelta21 on September 02 2021 in Altu dEl Gamoniteiru Spain Photo by Tim de WaeleGetty Images
(Image credit: Tim de WaeleGetty Images)

Stage 6: Bilbao - Ascensión al Pico Jano. San Miguel de Aguayo

Date: Thursday, August 25, 2022

Distance: 181.2km

Stage timing: 12:20-17:30 CET

Stage type: Mountain

Stage 6 provides the first mountaintop finish of the Vuelta a España, atop Pico Jano. The race sets off from Bilbao and continues westward into Cantabria for an unprecedented visit to Pico Jano - where in preparation for the Vuelta, the final 4km section above the Alsa reservoir was paved. 

There are three uncategorised climbs for the peloton to warm up the legs in the opening 35km and then a valley ride of approximately 20km sets up the category 2 Puerto de Alisas (8.7km at 5.8%).

A succession of two climbs, the uncategorised Puente Viesgo and the first-category Collada de Brenes (6.8km at 8.2%), are likely to disrupt proceedings for the assault to Pico Jano, which towers above the town of San Miguel de Aguayo. Prior the final climb, sprinters can charge for intermediate points at Santa Cruz de Iguña.

On the final climb, which heads in a southerly direction from Bárcena de Pie de Concha with 12.6km to go, the road rises with an average gradient of 7%. with two sections at 12%, for the first half or so to the reservoir.

The road then levels out a little for almost 2km in the middle of the mountain. However, the respite is a brief one before the road tilts up with gradients of 6 to 11% – though at less sustained harsh gradients in comparison to the first half – for the finish.

Maps and profiles of the 2022 Vuelta a Espana stages

(Image credit: La Vuelta)

The GC battle is on again

Tuesday's fourth stage saw the first filtering of the GC favourites following the opening TTT as the riders tackled the short, steep uphill run to the finish in Laguardia.

There, on that first of two days in the Basque Country, it was three-time champion Primož Roglič who came out on top, banishing any doubts over his form in the run-up to the race and throwing down the gauntlet to his challengers.

The Slovenian may no longer be in the red jersey following the breakaway's triumph on stage 5, but he's still 26 seconds clear of his GC rivals, who will be looking to eat into his advantage rather than let is grow any larger on Pico Jano.

With a stage win under his belt, he is, of course, the favourite to climb to victory as the race hits a finish above 1,000 metres for the first time. After a long recovery from his Tour de France injuries and short build-up to the Vuelta, though, there are still questions to be asked of him on a longer climb such as this one.

Already on the back foot, the likes of Remco Evenepoel (at 27 seconds), Richard Carapaz (0:33), Simon Yates (0:51), Enric Mas (0:52), João Almeida (0:53), Jai Hindley (0:54), Sergio Higuita (0:55), Mikel Landa (1:02), and Miguel Angel López (1:06) will all need to gain time wherever they can, rather than bide their time as Roglič rides further into form.

It's the first mountaintop showdown of the Vuelta and, while it's far from the toughest or the most pivotal, the Pico Jano summit could be the first real indicator about the future of this year's Vuelta.

Maps and profiles of the 2022 Vuelta a Espana stages

(Image credit: La Vuelta)

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